May 21, 2011


This is about AOs - animation overriders… one of my pet peeves in SL…

I have maybe 25 or 30 AOs in my inventory, all collected and tried within the last >3 years. Vista, Oracul, whatever brand it was that I stumbled across in forums, or on XStreet/Marketplace or in Malls and looked good in the first moment, I did buy. I'd rather not want to know how many L$ I wasted for them.
"Wasted?", you ask.
Yes - because I just stick with the (free) OpenCollar Sub AO until I find one with natural looking moves that matches my persona, so that I can say "That one is so me!"...
With the other, rather expensive ones, my avatar behaves like an overly nervous or overly sex-driven insecure kid, or like someone on speed, or like someone who has to go pee but can't, et cetera pp. My avatar simply does not move appropriate with them.

AO-maker of all brands: I don't want my avatars to move like a sex-driven insecure kid on speed on top of caffeine with a week bladder: I want them to move like an adult woman who knows what she's doing - and with an AO matching my persona (which is usually rather calm despite me being a caffeine-junkie)!
If I wanted to double-up or pace around or throw my hair around or bend my knees or present my tits or dance around or kick the air, I would do that even if I had to select those damn anims from a folder.
But I don't usually pace around walking holes in the floor, I don't usually dance while talking to others, I don't usually do knee-bends or martial art kicks while building, and especially I don't usually shift from one leg to the other like I had to pee (unless I really have to) or mess around with my hair every few seconds - so I don't want to see any of these animations in an AO I want to buy!

Here's a challenge, you AO makers:
Go out into RL for a while, and watch the real people out there, how they walk, stand, sit, lay etc. -- and not those in cartoons and animes or on the catwalk where they move exaggeratingly anyways.
Rather go and watch the people in the streets, in the parks, in the cafes and Malls. The REAL people. See how they move while standing around talking, while walking, while presenting and building things, while sitting on park benches and cafe chairs, while laying or sitting on meadows, beaches - even on the hard asphalt.
Do they move as if they were wearing one of your AOs? I bet they don't. I even bet none of the real people out there move as if they were wearing one of your AOs.
So how the heck did you get the idea of putting THESE anims in there?
Do you think they're cute? I tell you: you have no idea what cute even means.
Do you think they're sexy? Watch real people moving, you'll see what sexy moves really are, and when they become simply stupid and annoying.
Do you think they represent dominance or submission, or strength or meekness? Maybe they do in your cartoons and animes, but not in RL.
So go out into RL for a while. Go watch the real people, watch them closely how they move. Study them. Study them all - no matter if it's the rich diva shopping with her chihuahua, or the soccer mom, or that teenie over there with the skateboard, or the cashier during her break, or the broker on the way home, or the waiter/waitress, or the high school students at McD, or that old-ish ragged person with the shopping cart full of bags, or the university student there in the park tanning her face while sitting on that bench, or the officer in the recruitment office, or that obvious loser who scuffle their feet along the street. Watch your family and your friends, your colleagues and customers/clients and bosses. WATCH THEM ALL, AND STUDY THEIR MOVES. Study even their subconscious moves, all their gestures, the way they walk or stand or sit or lay, or shift their body or tilt their head, watch their entire body language in everything they do.
And THEN build your animations and AOs from what you learned from studying them.

Yes, maybe I do have some too high expectations, but all I want is AOs with NATURALLY LOOKING moves and animations in them.

May 8, 2011

some thoughts about disability in SL

in the previous post I mentioned a friend who spends much of her time to create things for the disabled.

Now since I started to spend some of my time online with a handicapped avatar myself - and I've learned a lot about how people react on some disabilities - I also wondered about the reasons why people in general use handicapped avatars.
It's gonna be long, so there is a short "TL'DR" summary at the end. :)

As I said, I used it to learn about the reactions. One of my characters in "a" story of mine (I don't know yet if this character gets involved in "Mirror Visions part 2" or in another story) is an armless girl, with just little stumps for arms. So, I created an avatar after her.
No, I haven't been active in the Virtual Ability community with her, and at no other amputee places either (though I did visit Club Accessible more often than not), and I also didn't openly pretend to be such handicapped: I even did play a role in a normal town RP, and (using the famous Jessica Cox as a shiny example for an armless person's ability to drive a car (and even to fly an airplane!)), sweet even drove the taxi and the bus there. Who said that handicapped people have no useful ability at all? Or that they have to be considered "dis-abled"?

Anyways: one dear friend of mine is an amputee in RL, and she admitted that it hurt her to see her avatar NOT mirroring her own handicap. She said "I just couldn't stand seeing this avatar with two legs, and then looking at my own stump on the chair below the keyboard" - thus, her avatar very quickly became an amputee like her RL self. Others I've met thanks to the connections of my alt and this friend have been likewise: the handicap of their avatars mirror the handicaps of their RL bodies - no matter if it's the wheelchair, amputation stumps of all sorts, prostheses, braces, thick glasses - or even a scripted seeing-eye dog.

But, not all handicapped people are like them. Many many more with RL handicap don't even consider to mirror their RL handicaps into SL at all. Since everyone can be what ever they want or dream to be, many handicapped people rather prefer to use a "normal", non-handicapped avatar. You'll never know that they are handicapped until they tell you if you meet them at places like Virtual Ability, Club Accessible or others. Maybe the avatar you dance with at the moment, or that escort/dancer on that stage, or your friendly newbie mentor, or the newbie you teach something, or or the kajira in your furs, or the Master you serve in SL actually is a handicapped person in RL? Who knows?

Though - like my alt, not all handicapped avatars are steered by real handicapped people.
"Why that?", you may ask. "Why in all world would someone even want to use a handicapped avatar if they have no handicap in RL?" Well, I'd answer with a grin: "Simply because they can."

Some, for example, do it for role-play reasons.
Whether it's because their RP character gets mutilated during a role-play scenario (like, when thieves get their hand chopped off, or a shark eats the seaman's leg, or someone gets blinded), or because they play a somehow handicapped person within an RP - for them it's important to stay in that role as plausibly and consequently as possible to follow the continuity of their RP. If you want to play your role well, you just play out all consequences of whatever happens to your role, even if it means that your character is handicapped from one RP night on.
Others for example use steam-powered prostheses for their avatars in a steampunk surrounding, or walk around as cyborgs - part human, part machine (which again means that the human part would  be massively handicapped without the machine part), so they just as well play a handicapped person, but aren't handicapped for real.

Well, as I  stated above, my own alt sweet was created based on a character in my own stories, who is a bilateral arm amputee.
I thought it would have been way too personal to ask a real amputee about their feelings on how others react on them, or how they struggle with such rather non-technical details like: "do I dress this so that my stump(s) can be seen, or rather that to hide it(them)? Which prosthesis goes with which outfit, or will I rather go without? And if I go without, will others think I'm ugly?" I know that's an entire different quality of questions than asking how they'll cope with the everyday obstacles that appear with having stumps or prostheses for arms or legs (or without ability to see or hear) anyways. And I wanted to have my personal POV on it. Thus, sweet was born.
With my alt sweet, I am a rather normal girl who just happens to have stumps instead of arms. And strangely, at most places, people don't even realize sweet's handicap unless I ask them, for example, to open a door (I use RLV  with my alt, and disabled "far touch" ), or unless they see me go unusually close to vendors to touch them ("with my feet"), or unless they wonder why my avatar never shows such arm  animations, like when others run their hands through their own hair or point at things and so on.  But when they finally realize it (which, in Koeln, even took more than an hour) then it's like "WOW, she doesn't have any arms!" - and then the different reactions begin, which others whose handicaps are much more obvious usually have to deal with immediately.

It's really interesting to experience all these reactions, both positive and negative - though some reactions are really bothersome. That's the reactions and comments of the "devotees".

Who or what are "devotees" now, and what do they have to do with this topic?
That's a word for those who feel mainly attracted to handicapped people. Like some of us prefer brunettes or tall people, "devotees" prefer people who have one specific handicap - and for some few of them, this handicap can't be specific enough.
Like for example your ideal beauty may be "a 5ft5inch-tall tomboyish girl with shoulder-long red hair, brown eyes and freckles and a fiercy but submissive character", the ideal beauty of a devotee could be for example "a nice blonde, slim, not too tall woman with two equally 3 inch long, nicely rounded arm stumps and with the scars nicely removed and with ..." - you get the point.
A woman can be thus nice, blonde, slim, not too tall - can even have bilateral arm amputations, but if only one of her stumps is longer or shorter than those 3 inches, she isn't attractive for them.
That's the reason why there are some devotees in SL who create their avatars so that they become their own ideal beauty.

Then,  there are those who suffer from BIID, Body Integrity Identity Disorder, a condition which is quite the opposite to the phantom limbs amputees suffer from: They feel that one - or several - of their limbs, despite being attached  to their bodies and being fully functional, are "not really a part of their body".
You can compare that to having, for example, a second set of fully functional arms attached to your body: you would realize them as being too much, as disturbing attachments that always get into the way, as being "not really parts of your body" as well. So, of course you would wish they simply weren't there. Some of you might have the desire to be without those arms #3 and #4 entirely. You would pretend that this set of extra arms simply weren't there, you would bind them up or keep them underneath your clothes so you couldn't use them even by reflex (thus, being what is called a "pretender"), and the more daring ones of you would go all ways to finally get them removed at all costs, even by risking your health trying (thus, becoming a "wannabe").
And of course, the Hippocratic Oath and other ethic agreements forbid surgeons to remove healthy limbs (especially if you only have as many limbs as the average person), so these people are bound to suffer from this desire for their entire life, unless they finally manage to somehow get the disturbing limb removed.
In SL though, at least their avatars can look how they feel their own body should look like - with the disturbing limb(s) being removed, or the disturbing ability taken away. Their desires come true - at least virtually.

TL'DR: Handicapped avatars can be (a) people who mirror their own RL handicaps, (b) role-players who just play their role as plausible as possible, (c) devotees who use their avatar as object of their own desire, or (d) people who suffer from BIID.

Based on the people I've met, I'd dare say that those who belong to category (a) are the biggest of the groups, then comes (b) and (d), and then, as a tiny minority: (c).

So, whenever you see a handicapped avatar - don't treat them badly: they probably have the same handicap in RL.

So much to post, so little time

Where to begin?
Ah yes, what have I done since my last post here? Well, I've been busy. A lot.

Firstly: I built another version of the Shop Ship (and remade the logo).

My business partner Gorkie had a moment of "no sense in keeping all this boring stuff" and took all SLC and VIVIANE Fashion vendors down, leaving the Shop Ship nearly empty. So I started to talk some sense into her, and even built a bigger ship: a 70m long, 35m wide catamaran, with 4 floors to fill.
Then, we removed everything from our land sweetgorkie Island, and I put the new Shop Ship, and another house there - of course the big medieval well and its smaller brother found their place, too.
Now, visitors of our land arrive on a kind of a kind of L-shaped landing dock, and have to walk alongside the ship to reach our house. :P
This is the Shop Ship as seen from the Linden Sea. The wall at the left and behind belongs to one neighbor's Japan-themed parcel. If you look closely, you will see that the landing dock in front of the Shop Ship directly leads to the Big Medieval Well which is shadowed by that wall. And yes, the tiny figure there on the dock is me :)
The palms and beach behind the ship belongs to another neighbor who lives on the corner piece of the sim and obviously prefers to be left in peace, as the ban lines are showing.
Here it's me near the TP point, and we see the Shop Ship from the front, with the loading/entrance gate open. It clearly can be seen that it is a catamaran, that it has four floors above the water surface, and that it's even bigger than my house on the left... The tree house though in the background left belongs to that neighbor on the corner parcel.
Through  the gate of the ship, you can see the new logo of my shop to the right, and the vendors of VIVIANE Fashion in the background. 
The thing stuck in the floor is a VIRWOX™ vendor that I couldn't move due to permissions of VIRWOX's own avatar - but, I'll have it repositioned shortly.
When I made this screenshot, the second floor wasn't entirely filled yet, that's why it looks like empty here. 
The third floor which also looks empty on this screenshot will soon be filled with the products and/or vendors of a friend of my Mistress, the marvelous, multi-talented creator Haven Ditko. I know a small part of her products already because i was allowed to help create vendor pics for her some months ago, upon a favor i did for my Mistress. Miss Haven has created lots of heart-warming, beautiful and wonderfully scripted and sculpted garden and fantasy stuff - and that was even before she added even more to her shown talents, like animations, photography and so on. I wish I were as talented a content creator as she is. *sigh*

Here another look on the first floor of the Shop Ship, shot from where a few of my Virwox vendors are standing.:
Yes, I renamed my own shop to "Gem's Timber Works", because most things I build are either mainly made of wood (according to the textures), or have parts made of wood - and timber is another word for it.
You see that there are a lot of "VIVIANE Fashion" vendors in the background now. I know it's many more than ever had place in and around the former version of the Shop Ship. I think it's three times as many - on this floor alone.
Here I stand in the back of the ship, near its backside terrace door. You see here  that the Shop Ship is really big. No complains about "to narrow aisles" and "cam problems while shopping" anymore. And with 5m height, the floor is also high enough I think. The only problem while shopping on board of the Shop Ship ought to be the huge selection of products now. On either side of the center stairway, there are shoes - heels on one side, sneakers on the other.

Here's a look on the second floor now:
You see, there is an entire hair shop now in the front: matching the name of the parcel, sweetgorkie Island, it's sWEET HAIRs which has been chosen as franchise partner. It's one of the handful hair designers where you can buy really life-like flexi hair of nearly all styles and colors.
And, there's even more of VIVIANE in the back of this floor.

As already mentioned, the third floor will be filled with Haven's vendors soon (and maybe with added vendors by other creators of a similar theme).

The fourth floor of the Shop Ship though is being furnished as a club. There'll be no vendor at all on that floor, just the dance machines and the DJ desk that are already there, plus some chairs and tables to rest from dancing or shopping.
Miss Haven sponsored one of these dance machines, while the other one, a dance machine for handicapped avatars, was sponsored by a friend of Gorkie, Alexis Odger - who devotes much of her time and creative talents to help disabled residents both to run SL despite their handicaps, and to mirror their RL handicaps in SL - some rather prefer to see their avatars as handicapped as they are in RL.

So that's about what I've done in SL so far - aside of serving my Mistress, working on new products for my own shop, learning, and having fun with my friends...

In RL though, I still work on writing part 2 of "Mirror Visions". I currently battle with myself about entirely giving up the illustrating part - somehow I never am satisfied enough with pictures intended to become illustrations for my story. And I have the nagging feeling that a huge deal of the current two chapters rather fits into an alternative plot than into the storyline originally planned for this book.
But such things can happen when one lets the characters decide where they want to go...